Eating Disorders Corner
“Food is not the enemy. Self-hate is.”
This corner is devoted to addressing eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image. I have specialized in treating people with all of the above since 1999. It is a large part of my work and my heart. This corner is for those of us on the journey of disconnecting our worth from our size or what we eat.
Can we be trusted with food?
How do you decide when and what to eat? Do you look to yourself for the answers, or do you go to external sources? Do you trust yourself when it comes to food?
Diet culture and its close cousin eating disorders have us convinced that we can’t trust ourselves with food. They tell us we are not capable of eating “reasonably” if we only listen to how hungry we are and what we’re in the mood for. And we buy it; we truly believe that if we listen to ourselves, we will go overboard all the time and never choose anything but sugar or chips.
And on those rare occasions when we do allow ourselves sugar or chips, we do tend to go overboard. That’s when diet culture and the eating disorder show up and say, “See?? I was right! You need to be saved from yourself!”
In actuality, we go overboard on foods that we’ve restricted, and we go overboard on foods that we believe we shouldn’t be eating. Exactly what diets and most eating disorders set us up for.
In actuality, we gain weight back because our bodies are biologically programmed to gain weight back after it’s been lost. It might take a few years, but this happens for 98% of diets.
The food is not the problem, and our willpower is not the problem. The problem is that diet culture and eating disorders have convinced us not to listen to ourselves. They’ve convinced us to not eat enough of what we want because food is “bad” and “dangerous” and we are “weak.” They’ve convinced us that we need their protection and wisdom.
Diet culture and eating disorders have us looking outside of ourselves for answers about when and what to eat. We’ve learned to make these choices based on someone else’s rules. We make choices about which foods to eat not based on what we’re hungry for but based on what our diet plan tells us we can have. And generally, the plan doesn’t allow us to eat until we’re full.
We’ve learned to allow ourselves to eat only at certain times or intervals. We make ourselves wait when we’re hungry because it’s not the “right” time or it hasn’t been “long enough” since our last meal. Somehow our hunger is not only irrelevant, but both wrong and bad.
It’s time to stop this nonsense. Diet culture has taught us that we can’t be trusted for the sole purpose of making money. We believe that if we were eating right, our bodies would look like [insert current ideal-bodied model]. This is fully false. For the very large majority of us, our bodies are supposed to be bigger than that person you just pictured who has the current ideal body.
Nothing about what diet culture teaches us is based on health. Restricting food is not helpful in the big picture – weight loss is almost never permanent or healthy. And it leads to overeating, sooner or later, or both. So let’s please please please stop listening to it!
If you are caught up in the nonsense, as most of us are, consider learning about intuitive eating (IE). There’s a book (Intuitive Eating), and there are IE therapists and dietitians who specialize in helping us re-connect with ourselves and learn to trust ourselves again with food. There is another great book (Reclaiming Body Trust) by the folx at the Center for Body Trust, another useful resource.
We can be trusted; it’s diet culture and eating disorders that can’t.
Look for part 2 of this article, Tips for Trusting Ourselves with Food, in the next newsletter.